The 99th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race marked the competition debut of Chevrolet and Honda’s new high-speed aero kits: Honda’s higher-profile with side winglets, Chevy’s with a minimal, centered wing. Chevy had proven faster during both practice and qualifying.
The first three rows of the traditional three-wide grid had Scott Dixon (#9 Chip Ganassi-Chevy), Will Power (#1 Team Penske-Chevy), and Simon Pagenaud (#22 Penske) on Row 1; Tony Kanaan (#10 Ganassi), Helio Castroneves (#3 Penske), and Justin Wilson (#25 Andretti Autosport-Honda) Row 2; and Sebastien Bourdais (#11 KVSH Racing-Chevy), Marco Andretti (#27 Andretti), and Josef Newgarden (#21 CFH Racing-Chevy) making up Row 3.
Sage Karam (#8 Ganassi) crashed in Lap 1, Turn 1, making contact with Takuma Sato (#14 AJ Foyt Enterprises-Honda) who had positioned himself between Karam and the wall, bringing out the first yellow flag. The Top 3 on the grid retained their positions under the caution. The green flew to start Lap 13.
Pagenaud passed Power for second one lap later. Kanaan had risen to second during Lap 18 and took the lead from Dixon on Lap 20. Dixon taking it back on lap later, and Kanaan again a lap after that. Dixon was out front during Lap 26 (of 200). Dixon made his first pit stop under green on Lap 36. Kanaan came in one lap later and Pagenaud a lap after that.
Dixon, Pagenaud, and Kanaan ran 1-3 after the stops cycled through. Kanaan passed Pagenaud for second during Lap 56. Kanaan ran in P2 again as of Lap 60. Sprint car champion Bryan Clauson (#88 KVSH) crashed into the wall during Lap 64 bringing out the second caution. The leaders all pitted under the yellow. Pagenaud got out of pit lane first to take the lead, followed by Dixon and Kanaan.
The green flag came out to start Lap 71, with Dixon passing Pagenaud on the restart and Pagenaud reversing the move one lap later. Kanaan passed both drivers to the take lead during Lap 73. Dixon retook it two laps later and Kanaan ran in front on Lap 78. He remained in the lead during Lap 91, with Power having moved into third behind Pagenaud.
Kanaan pitted on Lap 99. The rest of the leaders pitted two laps later. Pagenaud, Kanaan, Power were the Top 3 after the stops, with Juan Pablo Montoya (#2 Penske) taking third on track during Lap 102. A third caution came out on Lap 113 in Turn 1 when Ed Carpenter (#20 CFH) clipped Oriol Servia (#32 Rahal Letterman Lanegan Racing-Honda) and took both cars out.
The Top 3 all pitted under the caution. Pagenaud retained the lead but Power and Dixon were the first two cars behind him coming off pit row. The three Dale Coyne Racing entries had trouble entering and exiting their pit boxes safely, with two crew members injured in the process. Power took the lead under green on Lap 124, one lap after the restart.
Pagenaud took it back one lap later, with Dixon taking P2 during Lap 126 and running in the lead after another four laps. Montoya and Pagenaud followed. Pagenaud was P2 on Lap 137. Dixon pitted from the lead during Lap 149, his second-to-the-last of the race. Pagenaud and Montoya came in three laps later, with Pagenaud getting out first but Power beating Montoya to the exit.
Kanaan hit the wall during Lap 153, bringing out caution number four. Charlie Kimball (#83 Ganassi) was the last of the leaders to pit before the caution and got to the exit line before Pagenaud and the rest as they started to slow on track. The green flew to start Lap 160. Dixon took second behind Kimball from Pagenaud two laps later, with Montoya then taking third from him.
Montoya took the lead on Lap 163. Power moved into second in front of Kimball on the next lap. Dixon moved to the point during Lap 167, followed by Montoya and Power. The fifth caution came out one lap later for debris from Sato’s car after he was hit from behind. Dixon led Power and Montoya onto pit land under the yellow for each of their final stops.
The order coming off pit road was Power, Montoya, Dixon, Pagenaud. The green came out to start Lap 174. Pagenaud suffered front-wing damage two laps later, and as he fell through the pack and hard crash took place involving rookie Stefano Coletti (#4 KV Racing Technology-Chevy), Sebastian Saavedra (#17 Ganassi), and Jack Hawksworth (#41 Foyt)
Green flag racing resumed with 15 laps left. Dixon took second from Montoya on the restart, with Montoya taking it back briefly before Dixon retook it the following lap, passing Power as well for the lead. Power returned to front with 13 to go, with Dixon taking the spot back after two more laps. Power led with 10 to go, followed by Montoya and Dixon.
Montoya took the lead with 9 laps left. Power passed him the next lap. Dixon took P2 from Montoya with 7 to go. Power led with 5 left. Montoya took second from Dixon with four to go and the lead from Power as the next lap began. Kimball moved into third as Dixon faded following his duel with Montoya.
Montoya won, followed by Power, Kimball, and Dixon. Montoya won the 500 in 2000, before beginning his Formula 1 and NASCAR careers. Montoya cam back from 30th in the field after getting hit from behind by Simona de Silvestro during the first caution period.
“I just had too much push when he got by," said Power after the race. "I had to lift on that last lap. He was definitely better when he got behind me. That's why he got the run. Anywhere else I'd be happy with second. But here. ... It was a great month overall -- first, first and second, second."
“That was an easy race," remarked Montoya. "But this was a lot of work today. I mean, with Simona in back of me, that's what happens when you qualify bad. You find yourself with the wrong crowd. We kept adding downforce and adjusting the car. It was fun because after the caution, when I was running like eighth, I could barely keep up with them. I'm like, ‘We don't have anything.’ As we kept adjusting the car, (I thought) ‘Oh, that's a little better, that's a little better.’ That's what you got to do, stay on top of the track. What really matters is the last 15 laps. That was fun racing. Probably the best racing. Between Will and Dixon, we have a lot of respect for each other. We understand the risk and we understand when they got you. So it makes it fun.”